Letters

By , PhD, Carla Bennett, and William E. Wegener

Think, Feel, Do the Right Thing

I write in response to "The Age of Casting No Stones," (Feb. 18). The president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center is quoted as saying, "The therapeutic culture has taken over the moral culture. We're much more used to the vocabulary of psychology and therapy - 'What does someone mean by this? What was their intention?' - than we are with the objective analysis of an act, which is the heart of objective morality."

The article goes on to discuss the possible impact of our increasing inability to understand and to take a stand about what is right and wrong. In fact, the point is made that we may care very little about morality. According to a university dean, " we kind of work under the assumption, 'If it feels good, do it.' "

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I am dismayed about the implication that the discipline of psychology has become synonymous with the 'feel good' generation.

The American Psychological Association, as well as psychologists around the country, work diligently to incorporate and promote ethics. All state psychological associations have ethics committees that meet regularly to establish and enforce ethical guidelines for psychologists' behavior. We now teach courses in ethics at both the graduate and undergraduate level for psychology majors. These committees and courses focus on the establishment of a moral and ethical code for psychologists.

Finally, when a clinical psychologist asks his or her clients about their intent or about their feelings, it is with the intent to pursue a greater level of understanding about their way of operating in the world. Often such insights contribute to change and a higher level of functioning.

Psychologists know that the philosophy "if it feels good, do it" does not equal good mental health or even happiness. It generally takes hard work and patience to build a life and pass on some of what we have learned to the next generation.

Cheryl S. Pelletier, PhD

Bangor, Maine

Cattle ranching on a small planet

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) doesn't sympathize with beef ranchers' struggle against rising property and cattle feed costs and lower beef prices ("The Struggle to Keep the Family Ranch," Feb. 4).

Decades ago, in "Diet for a Small Planet," Frances Moore Lappe addressed the problem of the healthiest, most practical land usage to feed a swelling world population. Ms. Lappe wrote, " Set yourself at a restaurant in front of an eight-ounce steak and then imagine the room filled with 45 to 50 people with empty bowls in front of them. For the 'feed cost' of your steak, each of their bowls could be filled with a full cup of cooked cereal grains!"

Obviously, it's time for ranchers to switch their crops from flesh to grains and vegetables.

Carla Bennett

Norfolk, Va.

PETA

Poor penmanship? At least it's mine

The Home Forum article "A Palmer-Method Penman Recalls the Write Stuff" (Feb. 12) calls to mind my own penmanship battles with the Palmer Method push-pulls and ovals back in the 1930s. It was such a disaster that by sixth grade I earned my only school failure: in writing. This, however, did not prevent me from earning three degrees from reputable American institutions of higher learning.

If Mrs. Nachtrieb and subsequent grade-school teachers had their way, my handwriting would be perfect Palmer Method and indistinguishable from anyone else's Palmer Method penmanship - which means that any Palmer Method scholar could forge my signature, and I could do the same with his. The increasing homogenization of our look-alike cities that the author bemoans goes back at least to Palmer Method and its look-alike penmanship.

Down with enforced uniformity, and three cheers for individuality!

William E. Wegener

McLean, Va.

Your letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Mail to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

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